Holiday decorating safety tips can come in holiday handy and gift you with peace of mind at this holiday decorating time of year. There is now a direct link between holiday decorating safety tips and year round electrical safety in general. We got a big lighting up the holidays shock last week which explains my radio silence last week.
Fire is the one thing I am deathly afraid of. Let me share with you several situations and events over my lifetime that have caused and stoked this dreaded fear.
When Places In The Home was being built, a group of
delinquents neighborhood kids set the entire order of roofing shingles on fire. The sight, sound, and smell of the roaring pile of burning shingles scared me almost to death and scarred me for life. I was three years old, I remember the scene vividly to this day, and it’s this event that set a lifelong fear of fire into motion.
When I was five years old, my precious great-grandmother lit her gas stove with a match. She thought she blew the match out, but she did not. Prior to lighting the stove, she had emptied a pot of melted hot grease into the garbage can. You can almost be guaranteed that when a lit match hits hot grease, flame and fire is close behind. With expert precision and quick hands to rival Drew Brees, Mama Two grabbed the flaming trash can, used her foot to kick open the back door, and ran with can in hand into the backyard where she extinguished the fire with a can lid. Mama Two innocently marked me for life.
In 1974, my grandmother’s house suffered severe extensive smoke damage throughout from a lightening strike to a television left in front of a window in her kitchen. The television burned up and through the floor. My grandmother was on vacation in Florida at the time of the strike. With no one home to notice, the television smoldered for several days. Every wall, surface, furnishing and floor was completely covered and caked in soot. The soot was so thick it measured close to one inch thick inside closed drawers. Determined to face my fear, I insisted on going with her and my parents to meet the insurance adjuster for the initial walk through. Horrible sight that only served to exacerbated my fear of fire.
My parents and I were at the original MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas on the day before the horrific fire in 1980 that killed 85 people and injured 650. We were visiting with family who were guests at the hotel. Thankfully, they all survived the fire. They have rarely discussed the tragic ordeal with anyone for understandable reasons. The details they have offered are as awful as one would imagine, and haunt me to this day. Dave and I have been back to the hotel (now Bally’s) several times since, but I absolutely refuse to stay at the hotel.
My parents were staying at the Las Vegas Hilton in 1981 when an arsonist set fire to the hotel killing 8 and injuring approximately 200. Tragic details with the less shared with me the better caveat.
Last week, our electrical panel-service-wiring placed a bulls eye right in the center of my fear of fire and plans for the holiday budget. Two weeks ago I discovered there was no power to the master bedroom sitting and dressing area. The A/C would come on (welcome to November in Louisiana) but the compressor would not kick on. I called the electrician, he came out and replaced a breaker in the original and antiquated electrical panel, and power was restored.
Two weeks to the day same problem arises. Call the electrician, he comes by that afternoon, and within thirty minutes three electricians, two city utilities supervisors, and one scared to death homeowner stood in our kitchen discussing how soon Dave the Builder and I could vacate the house.
The electricians and supervisors got straight to the point; “Ma’am, your house is in danger of burning to the ground in its present state. We are going to pull the electricity panel and the electrical service to your house is being disconnected immediately.”
I’m usually strong- the “I’m a willow, I can bend” one in the group however, this was not the case in this particular situation. I completely lost it in front of all parties present. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I cried worse than I did when my daddy died.
Straw, meet camel’s broken back.
I’ll spare you the details of shock, inconvenience, and scrambling to figure out how to pay for the unexpected heavy four figure expense (does anyone really have thousands of dollars stashed and saved for emergency home maintenance repairs). Dave the Builder is a maintenance master at much, but electrical is not his forte.
My fear is fire. His is being electrocuted.
I got it together, found the silver lining, peace of mind, and good will toward electrician men. The new service is in, and power is back up and running, and it’s time to get back to normal (our normal anyhow). All of this got me to thinking a post about holiday decorating safety tips may be as cathartic to me as it is useful to some.
Christmas Tree Holiday Decorating Safety Tips
A real live Christmas tree is part of many Deck the Halls Decoristas Christmas tradition. Safety takes first place over real tree beauty so let’s start there.
Christmas Tree Safety – National Fire Protection Association
Placement is key. Place a live Christmas tree at least three (3) feet away from any heat source such as fireplaces, space heaters, heat vents, radiators, or candles.
Water a real Christmas tree daily to prevent or at least slow the drying out process.
Use lights with the label of a recognized testing laboratory approved for indoor use. A green holographic UL label means indoor use only, whereas lights with a red holographic UL label mean the lights may be used indoors as well as outdoors.
The look is lovely, but never use lit candles to decorate a Christmas tree.
Replace lights that are worn, have broken cords, or loose bulb connections.
Do not overload strands connections. Use no more than three standard size sets of lights per single extension cord.
When we were kids, one of the neighborhood families left their outdoor decorations on while away. The way too old and unsafe big bulb Christmas lights decorating one of the Oak trees in their front yard snapped, crackled, popped, and caught fire.
The fire quickly spread and engulfed the entire home resulting in a total loss. Don’t second guess decorations or discount warnings. If your going to be away from home, turn off and unplug your outdoor and your indoor decorations. Always turn off Christmas tree lights before going to bed.
I don’t want to pour cold water on the holiday parade, but water and electricity do not mix. Make sure to keep your hands dry and never, ever stand in water when touching holiday decorations or gadgets powered by electricity.
Warm and cozy times spent round the Christmas tree go perfectly with the holidays.
For the many who use space heaters as a heat source, there’s a safe way to do so to ensure all is well.
Turn off and unplug space heaters when going to bed. Turn off or unplug space heaters when left unattended.
Use extreme caution to keep the three (3) foot radius around a space heater free of contact with any flammable item, combustible liquids, blankets, sofas, paper, toys, rugs, drapes, and soft goods.
Do not place a space heater on rugs, furniture, or countertops.
Never use extension cords or multiple plugs with a space heater.
Do not cut corners with worn out extension cords or Christmas lights. Never run an extension cord under rugs, carpets, or furniture.
Vintage Christmas decorations bring back old memories, and more times than not come with the original wiring. Check for frayed cords which run a high risk of lighting up the holidays in the call 911, the house in on fire kind of way.
Practice caution with garlands draped over a fireplace mantle or close to lit candles.
According to National Fire Protection Association, the top 3 days for home candle fires are New Year’s Day, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Keep candles at least 12 inches from anything that can burn.
Do not burn evergreens, pine, gift boxes, or gift wrap in your fireplace. Dry greens and cardboard act like tender- burning hot and fast. The flames can quickly flare out of control, cause a flash fire, and send sparks out into a room and/or up the chimney igniting creosote deposits. Make sure to keep the screen before the fireplace while burning a fire.
Plan for safe indoor and outdoor holiday decorating with these holiday decorating safety tips. Let’s all have a safe, stylishly decorated, and happy holiday season.